This summer I was given the chance to tour Vienna, Austria, Salzburg, Austria, Innsbruck, Austria, Florence, Italy, Venice, Italy, and Paris, France. It was the opportunity of a lifetime provided by EF Tours at my school! Being in another country taught me many things about foreign cultures and even my own.
In Austria we got our first taste of foreign food. They do not serve ice with their beverages, nor do they keep their milk cold. This is to help their metabolism. Unlike in America, the food there is much healthier. Gelato is the greatest thing ever invented! It is European ice cream, much lighter and fluffier than American ice cream. There is also no air conditioning. We spent most of our time touring the streets of Vienna and checking out the St. Stephens Cathedral and the St. Peters Cathedral. We also toured the Schönbrunn Palace. At the end of our stay in Vienna we attended a local gathering by the river to watch a soccer game. In Innsbrook, we stayed in a cottage up in the Alps, called the Windegg. The views from our cottage were outstanding! We listened to the cow bells ring all night out on the hill side. This is definitely an area I would like to visit again. The views of the hillside just do not compare with anything I have seen in the United States.
In Italy we got to experience Verona, Florence, and Venice. Here we discovered that toilet seats do not exist and personal hygiene is optional. This really made me appreciate the American customs of daily showers. Air conditioning, toilet seats, and ice cold beverages are a necessity to me, not just a custom. In Verona, we visited Juliet’s balcony and the local arena. We toured Florence for a day and saw all of the statues in the local square. Next, we headed off to Venice. In Venice, we spent the night at a hotel on the beach. The next day we got up and toured the island of Venice! Here we toured the streets, rode a gondola, and saw a glass blowing demonstration. The gondola ride was one of a kind! We rode through the town’s “water streets.” Then we took an overnight train to Paris. The overnight train was not for me. The cramped, bumpy, smelly, and dirty atmosphere is not somewhere I would like to spend a whole night. It was a necessary for our trip, but it is not something I will do again.
Here, in Paris we saw all of the major monuments such as the Louvre, Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and even witnessed a gay pride parade. Seeing these monuments in person instead of just pictures in a book makes them much easier to understand! I can now explain and have an in-depth conversation about the facts and details. The Louvre is much bigger than I expected. The hallways of artwork are endless! The Notre Dame Cathedral had gorgeous windows and detailing. The last thing we did was visit Paris’s most famous monument. Nothing will ever compare to seeing the Eiffel Tower lit up at night. It lights up at 10:00 and starts to sparkle at 11!
This was truly the trip of a lifetime. Although I will probably never go back, it was a great learning experience. I will never forget the people we met, friends we made, and monuments we saw. I will always have my scrapbook full of photos to take me back on this once in a lifetime opportunity.
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